WBAI is fundraising, and I’m doing my major stint from 4-6 tomorrow (Thursday). If you like the show, and you’ve got some spare change, please make a pledge during my time slot.
I’ve got some good news about WBAI, for a change. The station was been under a mix of toxic and ineffectual leadership since the death of Samori Marksman in 1999. Morale sank, listenership dwindled, the airwaves were filled with drivel, and fundraising sagged badly. The station fell months behind on studio and transmitter rent. It was years behind on its payments to Pacifica, the network that owns the license, and threatened to drag the whole five-station network down.
Finally, Pacifica’s new executive director, Grace Aaron, decided it was time to intervene. She fired the station manager, Tony Riddle, a likable fellow who nonetheless did next to nothing, and suspended and banned from the air the dreadful program director, Bernard White. White’s politics are a crude sort of black nationalism, and he’s been surrounded by a gang of acolytes calling itself the Justice and Unity Coalition (JUC), who’ve dismissed any criticism of White’s disastrous reign as racist. (Among its many offenses, the JUC is in tight with the Workers World Party.) White and some of his JUC cronies denounced their critics as “pieces of fecal matter” and “CIA agents” on the air. Aaron decided there’d been enough of this, and has essentially taken control of the station. The JUC hacks are on the run, and it’s a beautiful sight.
Enough internal politics. The bottom line is that this is the most hopeful thing that’s happened at WBAI in at least a decade and there’s a real chance of turning the thing around. Which is why I feel much more enthusiastic about fundraising tomorrow, and why I can urge everyone reading this to contribute generously. You can pledge online—and be sure to mention “Behind the News” as your favorite show—but it’d be best if you called in a pledge during my time slot, between 4 and 6 PM Thursday, NYC time, and tell them how much you’d like to hear more. Assuming you would, of course. The pledge line is 212-209-2950.